Northwest Wine Industry Hits Milestone As Wine Grape-Growing Regions Turn 30

Feb 26, 2014

The Northwest wine industry and the region’s grapevines are both getting older.

Many of the distinct wine grape-growing regions are now celebrating 30 years since the federal government recognized them as distinct growing areas also known as “appellations.” And Walla Walla will be the next to celebrate the milestone birthday.

Darcey Small says back when her husband started planting vines in longtime wheat ground, people thought he was nuts. Those vines are the roots of Woodward Canyon, which is now one of the oldest wineries in the Walla Walla Valley.

In March, the Walla Walla appellation will be celebrating its 30-year anniversary with an expert panel and tasting event. Small says the valley’s industry has now grown to include more than 100 wineries.

“We’re getting an ever smaller piece of an ever enlarging pie. There is a lot more attention on Walla Walla. There are certainly a lot more people coming to Walla Walla and specifically for wine. But they are spread out amongst now all those wineries,” she said.

Other appellations hitting the 30-year mark lately include: the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and Columbia Valley and Yakima Valley in Washington.

In Idaho, the wine industry is much younger. The earliest federal appellation was the Snake River Valley in 2007. Idaho now has 50 wineries.